- Matthew Barney
Envelopa: Drawing Restraint 7 (manual) C
black and white photographs and nylon frames, in three parts
Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York
Private Collection, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above
Beginning with early projects in the late 1980s, Matthew Barney’s work has been an exploration of the human form and psyche and a focused study of the possibilities and limitations that characterize both. Drawing Restraint is a title that Barney has used to describe a number of works that deal with the process of creating a work of art (Barney uses drawing as a metaphor for the beginning of the artistic process). Drawing Restraint 7 is Barney's most fully realized of the series.
Barney, among others, figures in this project as a satyr character, whose body exists in an ambiguous middle state between man and beast: a symbol of personal struggle and a surrogate for classical sculpture. His ideas translate into gestures that are enacted by a pair of wrestling satyrs. The satyrs, depicted in Envelopa: Drawing Restraint 7 (Manual) C struggle to create the unmistakably recognizable mark of art (and of the artist) using their horns. While they never succeed in doing so, their turbulent movements continue without end.
Barney holds his audience captive in a moment of great tension just before the work of art is born. Like his Cremaster Cycle, which is centered around the perfect utopian state before cell differentiation occurs and gender is determined in the human embryo, Drawing Restraint functions on a similarly tense moment in which art making and human achievement (rather than human life itself) is at the center of the narrative.